Wednesday, September 21, 2011

War Picture Library 220 The Atlantic Wall

There's a breath of honesty in The Atlantic Wall that is missing in most other pocket war comics. Victory is paid in blood. The toll of British dead is extraordinarily high. At the risk of sounding morbid it is this aspect of the story that makes it a good read. Not all the characters who are introduced survive.
The pivot of the story is Brigadier "Blood and Thunder" "Big Jumbo"  JMB Oliphant - an inspiration to his men as well as a perfectly eccentric English officer. He prefers to go into battle wearing his monocle and a black jumper with his two hunting dogs by his side and a sten gun in his hands. He's quick to praise and promote initiative. He is interested in results! Also (and perhaps alarming to our modern sensibilities) he has little time for sentimentality, for example the Brigadier sees a dead British soldier clutching a piat as a wasted firing opportunity. The tears can come later.
This is where the honesty can be found. Of course there are the typical extreme comic book moments. There can be no other way. However minor characters are given a chance to evolve. After that they are unlucky and buy it or lucky and survive. Which is interesting to find a War Picture Library story that openly says that luck sometimes has a part to play in success. But as we learn in The Atlantic Wall luck is only created by making things happen and things only happen as a result of strong leadership.

 Now that's how you wage war!
You might be smug now...

Sergeant Goldfinger (bottom right hand corner) survives the battle only to meet his fate several years later at the hands of another Englishman.
 You do the right things and this is what happens...
Psycho old dude with dogs wastes two bad guys.
Karl and Ernst have their final lesson.
If there wasn't a war on I'd let them eat you.
Thems big Nazis.
 Our weird little guys are better than your little weird guys.
 Outstanding lack of sentimentality. I love it.
 What? Daring do not enough? Luck had no part to play in it.
 The old I got you but you got me Aggghhh!
 What! Remorse? Where did this nonsense come from?
For you windowhead the war is over.

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